Monday, February 6, 2017

Beat the Burnout

It seems to me that October and February are THE HARDEST MONTHS in teaching!! Anyone agree??? Both months also have multiple holidays and no days off!! October has Columbus day(usually teacher work day), Halloween, red ribbon week and sometimes spirit week for football! February has groundhog day, President's day (usually teacher work day), Valentine's Day and it is short a couple of days so it feels like you're cramming in some extra material in a shorter amount of time. 

With that being said, I always feel exhuasted, fatigued and burnt out by the end of these two months! 

How do special educators become burned out? 

According to John A. Kaufhold
"...the key variables causing burnout and attrition were: job stress, weak support by administrators, unreasonable caseloads, large class size and ineffective in-service programs."  

  • Misperception That Teaching is Easy
  • Non-Instructional Responsibilities
  • Lack of Support
  • Dealing With Multiple Disabilities
  • Handling Death
  • Problems of an Inclusive Classroom
  • Professional Isolation
  • Lack of Support From Parents
  • Discipline in a Special Needs Classroom
  • Budget Problems

I know I have struggled with almost all of these! Our job is hard! 

About 50 percent of teachers in special education settings leave their positions in five years. Another 50 percent of those who persevere through the challenges during the first five years of their careers will find themselves seeking employment elsewhere in the next 10 years. Both of these factors support the fact that the turnover rate every 10 years is about 75 percent for special education teachers based on a study published in the International Journal of Special Education. Source

 How can you avoid burnout during these hard months and for the rest of the YEAR?

First off, You are not alone! Here are some amazing special ed teacher-authors and bloggers!  

Secondly, don't be afraid to switch things up. I told myself, I wasn't going to be a statistic where I became burned out before 5 years.  Guess what? It happened.  By my 3rd year, I was done. I couldn't take it anymore and had to get out of my position.  Luckily, I found the exact same position in a different district and started with a clean slate. Wow! what a difference a new start can do for a teacher. :) Thirdly, find an output or a hobby you really enjoy to reduce or take away some stress. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST!  

Mrs D's Corner

Here are some things you can try to help reduce stress and hopefully prevent burnout. 

  • crafting, scrapbooking, painting 
  • read
  • laughing
  • music (play an instrument or listen to music)
  • time with your pets
  • crochet, quilting, knitting
  • yoga, Beachbody workouts, p90x, dance, hiking, skiing, kayaking, go for a walk/run, kickboxing, swim
  • sit down and not doing anything/meditation / clear your mind
  • video games
  • sleep late on weekends
  • funny memes
  • eat candy
  • talk to a close friend
  • mani/Pedi
  • massage 
  • hot bath / essential oils
  • Binge watch Netflix or youtube 
  • blog
  • color
  • bake
  • go to the movies
  • photography
  • spend time with family
  • disconnect from social media for a few hours / don't connect your email to your phone 

Lastly, Some inspiration quotes from some amazing SpEd teachers: 
Mrs Ds Corner
You Aut-A Know

The Resource Teacher
Simply Special Ed

Autism Classroom News

In conclusion I will leave you to think about this:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Midyear changes

Oh wow.

It's been forever since I've been on blogger. I'm sorry about that. From October until now, things have been a whirlwind.  One reason, of many, was my wedding! 

So now onto what you're really here for... my SPED-related content. 

This year has been a brand new start for me in a new district, but since August we have had a major change every month and I haven't been able to catch my breath! I gained 5 new kids in the first semester (totaling 9 in a self-contained class).  Luckily we were able to get a para to support as well! After Thanksgiving, all of the sped staff schedules changed and another can of crazy opened up! Since things were so hectic the first semester, I thought January would be the perfect opportunity to start fresh and make some mid-year changes. This way we're all on the same page and know the same rules and expectations. 

There were a few things that weren't working out for my students and their current abilities. Yesterday was our in-service and we were able to get some things accomplished to help today go smoothly:

First was the physical structure in the classroom.  My paras and I hit the ground running and rearranged a few pieces of furniture and it opened up the room so nicely! The kids enjoyed the extra space and seemed to like the placement of their U-shaped desks instead of being in a row. I also made 4" schedule pieces to put on the wall.  The little visuals I had velcroed up were always getting pulled down...even if my kids had their own schedule pieces in their binders). I guess the teachers' is better!?

Secondly, I have used the workbox system for a couple of years similar to The Autism helper , Breezy Special Ed and Autism Adventures in Room 83. This system is fabulous, but I just couldn't get my current group to be successful with it. They have fine motor limitations and limited mobility and this system wasn't cutting it for us. So here comes the solution: IEP tubs! If you've seen examples from The Bender Bunch and Autism Adventures, they are genius!! All the kids' work is in one place to pull and work during the day.  There is less confusion where their work is because it's all in one place and labeled in separate folders or binders.  Today was very smooth using this method as well as keeping all of their data sheets in a folder in their tub as well.

Of course, we reviewed rules and expectations. I also did some re-grouping and split the class up into even smaller 2 kid groups to help manage some behaviors and students who need more assistance while working.

Overall, it was a great day.  I had tried so many things since August and was getting frustrated. I just need 2 weeks of vacation to figure it out! The crazy thing with Special Education's crazy and you just keep trying until something works.  It's never too late to try something new, self-reflect or ask for help or guidance!

If you or your kids are struggling, don't be afraid to change things up! You've got this, only 1 semester left! 

Until (hopefully soon) next time, 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

3 BTS tips

Here are a couple of quick tips to help your Back to School prep. 

1. Label your packed boxes a the end of the year.
I list the items in each box on an index card and place in a snack size ziplock bag.  I tape the bag onto the box and also put an L for a light box and H for a heavy box. When I store my boxes, I know to put the "H" boxes on the bottom. I also label the boxes in the order I should open and set up my room. 1, 2, 3, ... This way, at the beginning of the year I know the boxes to open first. It makes setup quicker and more efficient. 

 2. Spray laminated class visuals with Matte spray.
I spray all classroom visuals with a matte spray from Krylon.  This reduces the shiny glare and allows students to see the visuals without fighting the glare. Check out the difference in the video below!


3. Place reinforcers in craft reclosable bags to limit size.
I place my reinforcers in these craft bags. They are 2" x 3".  It allows me to carry a variety of reinforcers without the bulkiness of a zip lock bag. :) 

Hope these BTS tips can help you start out on the right foot! Have a great year!